Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend four rallies during BJP’s December “rath yatra” in West Bengal to give a thrust to the party’s campaign in the State ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party’s State unit said on Monday.BJP president Amit Shah will kick-start the three rath yatras in the State —Coochbehar district in the north on December 7, from Gangasagar in the south on December 9 and from Tarapith temple in Birbhum district on December 14.Target 22 The “rath yatra” would cover all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, where the BJP has set a target of winning over 22 seats. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend four rallies in Bengal during our rath yatra campaign in the State. We have informed the party central leadership and the PMO. The final dates are yet to be fixed. Let’s see what happens,” West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said. Mr. Modi is also scheduled to hold a public meeting at the historic Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata early next year.
- Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’
Topics : The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade. “With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.”The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.”When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear? “Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?” The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity [in China], but unfortunately he is banned”.The 28-year-old is appealing against an eight-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the United States and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.”When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.”This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”
- International Football Returns as UEFA Nations League Begins
While such a long break is unheard of in the modern era, this is also confirmation of how crammed the calendar will be in the year ahead, with almost all nations playing back-to-back fixtures this month just before Europe’s major leagues start the 2020/21 season.“I think across the board there’s got to be a look at the football calendar, and that’s everyone’s responsibility,” warned England manager Gareth Southgate last week.“Everybody is trying to put their competitions in and the calendar is growing and the spaces are getting smaller.”The demands on the players will be enormous. Six rounds of Nations League matches will take place in total between September and November, with the top four nations coming together for the finals.Initially planned for June 2021, these are now set to go ahead later in the year, once the European Championship has finally been completed.In the meantime, this Nations League will start with all games behind closed doors, a sad new reality for football in a pandemic and which already applied to the latter stages of the Champions League and Europa League last month.Another reality of the health crisis is that coaches must be prepared for the possibility of losing players to positive Covid-19 tests, and so France have lost midfield duo Paul Pogba and Houssem Aouar for their matches against Sweden and Croatia.Similarly, Spain have seen Real Sociedad striker Mikel Oyarzabal withdraw from their squad to face Germany and Ukraine.With no fans allowed in, that latter fixture will be played at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium in Real Madrid’s training complex.Aside from the complications caused by the pandemic, there is another major difference to the last, inaugural Nations League.Whereas it offered four qualifying berths for Euro 2020 – in delayed play-offs which are now due to go ahead in October and November – there is no such incentive this time.Nevertheless, ahead of 2022 World Cup qualifying starting early next year, the two best Nations League group winners who do not qualify for the finals in Qatar via that route will be parachuted into the 12-team play-offs for a second chance at securing a place.It all sounds complicated, but in simpler times the tournament was a breath of fresh air, replacing as it did the monotony of truly meaningless international friendlies.Portugal beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the inaugural final in Porto, with England and Switzerland also having reached the finals.And there are plenty of enticing fixtures to look forward to among the first batch of games this time, including Germany hosting a new-look Spain, featuring 17-year-old Ansu Fati, in Stuttgart this evening.That will be Luis Enrique’s first game of his second spell as Spain coach, despite him being re-appointed more than nine months ago.Gareth Southgate’s England play away in Iceland and Denmark, while there will be a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final when France host Croatia at an empty Stade de France.It will be strange, but at least it is further confirmation that football is very much back in Europe, while FIFA cancelled all internationals on other continents that were previously planned for this month.LEAGUE AGroup A1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, PolandGroup A2: England, Belgium, Denmark, IcelandGroup A3: Portugal, France, Sweden, CroatiaGroup A4: Switzerland, Spain, Ukraine, GermanyLEAGUE BGroup B1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, RomaniaGroup B2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, IsraelGroup B3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, HungaryGroup B4: Wales, Finland, Republic of Ireland, BulgariaLEAGUE CGroup C1: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Cyprus, MontenegroGroup C2: Armenia, Estonia, North Macedonia, GeorgiaGroup C3: Moldova, Slovenia, Kosovo, GreeceGroup C4: Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Belarus, AlbaniaLEAGUE DGroup D1: Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra, MaltaGroup D2: Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, San MarinoShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram After the postponement of Euro 2020 by a year, international football comes out of a long hibernation this week in Europe with the start of the latest UEFA Nations League, which is being crammed into the autumn despite the ongoing coronavirus concerns and will see Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal defend their title.In normal times, the continent’s leading international teams would have been returning to action less than eight weeks after the final of the European Championship, but instead they will be playing for the first time since completing Euro qualifying last November, a hiatus of 10 months.“We are delighted to have our team back out on the pitch, and to be able to play international matches again,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “The past few months have been difficult for everybody.”